PECOTA projections: Rangers win AL West

Colin Wyers of Baseball Prospectus wrote a blog entry for ESPN.com about the PECOTA projections. The Rangers are projected to win the AL West. The Rangers are picked to win despite a projected record of 84 wins. Part of the entry:

Rangers: 84-78 (Projected 2011 record)

Why They Might Win: The 2010 AL champs return with most of their roster intact -- missing out on a half season of Cliff Lee is probably not much of an obstacle for them, especially if Brandon Webb is healthy and can regain his old form. Adding Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli bolsters the offense and gives them a bit more flexibility to address first base, their biggest lineup hole last season.

Why They Might Not Win: Despite having reached the World Series last season, the Rangers are merely a solid, unspectacular team that will need the breaks to go their way to make it back. (Webb is one of those breaks.) Ron Washington will need a deft hand to juggle his many lineup options while keeping his clubhouse happy.

Player Who Could Surprise: Playing for a manager other than Mike Scioscia could give Napoli an opportunity he hasn't had before. PECOTA sees a .247/.331/.475 line for the former Angel. With three positions (catcher, first base and designated hitter) not set in stone, he could play his way into the sort of full-time role he never had a chance to have with the Angels.

Player Who Could Disappoint: If Webb's repaired shoulder allows him to return to his 2006-08, Cy-Young form (3.13 ERA), the Rangers will have a steal on their hands. But that seems like a long shot, given his series of aborted comebacks last year. PECOTA predicts a 3.63 ERA in 173 2/3 innings, but it can't predict the exact state of his arm any better than the Rangers can.

The rest of the AL West is here.